Harper continues calls for safety action over unexploded ordnance in Beaufort’s Dyke

South Scotland list MSP Emma Harper has repeated her calls for a safety assessment of Beaufort's Dyke due to the increasing amount of unexploded munitions that continues to wash ashore in Dumfries and Galloway.

Munitions being thrown into Beaufort's Dyke after WW2
Munitions being thrown into Beaufort's Dyke after WW2

The Dyke is a natural deep water trench located in the Irish Sea between Ireland and Portpatrick.

It was used to dump unexploded weapons in the sea after the Second World War and more recently other contaminated – including radioactive - waste.

According to the MOD, over 50,000 tons of explosives are disposed of in Beaufort’s Dyke, with Ms Harper having been calling for improved safety since 2019.

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the disruptive impact of high order detonation Ms Harper asked the Cabinet Secretary to press the UK Government to use proven alternatives to high order detonation.

She hopes this will reduce disruption to the marine environment and to protect marine mammals which can become disoriented by large underwater explosions.

Ms Harper said: “Increasing development in the marine environment is leading to the discovery of a greater number of unexploded munitions.

"Although exact figures aren’t available, the Coastguard and Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Unit have reported that the number of unexploded ordnance washing ashore is increasing.

"Previously, I wrote to the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Defence to ask that a full safety assessment be carried out of Beaufort's Dyke, so people across south west Scotland can be reassured.

"It's also important this assessment be carried out, should any potential offshore developments come to the region. I have had no response from the UK Ministers and asked the Scottish Government to intervene.

“Additionally, in the debate I highlighted that clearance of unexploded ordnance is commonly undertaken by high order detonation which leads to loud blasts and disturbs the marine environment, not to mention the potential safety implications to people coming across unexploded ordnance.

"I therefore support calls for Marine Scotland to use various new forms of less disruptive means of removing unexposed ordnance."